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on 17 November 2002
Bernstein's book is all about the real truths of investing, ones that are well understood by the academic finance community, but vigorously denied by most of the investment community at large, in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence.
Bernstein's 4 pillars are Theory, History, Psychology and Business (in this case, the business of investment management).
His points are fairly clear. Most fundamentally, that the efficient nature of markets means the average retail investor is better off in a portfolio of tracker or indexed mutual funds rather than trying to seek the hot 'active' manager (whose future performance will most likely deteriorate back down to the median).
The value an indvidual investor can add is via asset allocation (the proportion of his portfolio in stocks, bonds, property etc.) and by an awareness of the historic tendency of markets to form valuation 'bubbles' (of the kind the stock market has been deflating since March 2000).
Bernstein covers all this ground and more (for example the whole issue of portfolio rebalancing, and the likely future returns from different asset classes) in a breezy, entertaining non-technical style...
I am a former City fund manager and Chartered Financial Analyst, and I wish I had known half of what Bernstein teaches so easily when I started out. I was at one of the City's largest houses, and we created so little value for our retail clients (after fees) that it is laughable.
If there is one major criticism of the book, it is that it is entirely American focused. There is no Vanguard equivalent in the UK, that offers a wide range of index funds for very low fees. So the UK reader will find himself frustrated that he cannot readily duplicate Bernstein's ideas. Also much of the advice about taxes, etc., requires translation into the UK milieu (it helps to know a 401k is a personal pension, for example).
This book should sit alongside classics like Burton Malkiel's 'A Random Walk Down Wall Street' as well as UK books like 'No Monkey Business' by Stuart Fowler, as a much read and reread, non technical survey of best practice in personal investment.
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on 13 January 2016
William Bernstein is usually worth reading and this is no exception. Whether beginner or expert you'll find a fresh point of view with interesting and useful observations on investing. My main caveat is that this probably isn't a book for complete beginners - I think in places Bernstein does assume that the reader already knows the basics.
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on 18 March 2010
I liked this book. Reasons:

Very readable - I read it over a weekend.
Clear concise and accessible information. A lot of people in this area want you to feel how smart they are and make everything technical. Someone once said to me that the sure sign of excellence in any subject is to be able to explain it clearly and this book is clear.

I am in the process of putting my savings into the stock market for the long term. I feel very sure that this is the correct thing for me, but I have had a certain degree of anxiety on how to do this without risking wiping out our savings. This book had helped me to set my compass.

Only thing I am not sure about is that this book is strongly based on the efficient market hypothesis and so strongly advocates trackers ETF's etc. I understand where this is coming from, but I currently have an open mind on whether to go for index trackers or stock-picking mutual funds.

Very good book and I've no hesitation in recommending it.
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on 20 February 2018
I thought the book was very useful in laying the foundations for a novice to investing. I would highly recommend the book to anyone looking to obtain foundational knowledge of personal investing (I wouldn’t be able to speak as to whether this is useful for professional investing).
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on 4 November 2015
Best book on the subject ever, pithy practical readable and re-readable, a light touch upon the maths, and understandable by all continues to stand the test of time very well. Warning - read this book young enough and it can seriously improve your wealth
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on 3 February 2017
Excellent review of the principles of sound investing. Unfortunately the final portion on how to put together a specific portfolio for your needs is for the American market and is not particularly relevant to the UK.
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on 9 October 2015
Recommended. Buy this tome, rather than the 3-volume series. Good advice from an investing sage
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on 13 July 2009
My friends who trade all say that this book is a 'very, very good book' although it is a bit advanced for a rookie.

10/10
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on 3 November 2013
I've read 20 or so books on investing and this comes in the top two. (The other is Tim Hale's Smarter Investing). Why? Too many journalists, reporters, authors, stockbrokers and mutual fund salesmen imply that they have the right hot tip, money-making fund managers or above average performance that you can join in on. Unfortunately, the statistics just don't support this, starting with the analogy that a large proportion of us can't be above average drivers and finishing with the fact that funds with above average performance for the last few years tend to fall below average. So what to do? Invest in low cost index funds and diversify. But the book is also very human, you have to sleep at night rather than worry about your investments and the book recognises that too, advocating government bonds (Gilts in the UK), corporate bonds and even tiny percentages in property funds, commodities and others. Any disadvantages? The book allows for USA taxes which aren't relevant to us in the UK.
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on 14 September 2014
Great book. A few sections I had to read a few times to understand. I felt it was an unbiased description of where to put your money for retirement.
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